Ladies of Horror May-hem: Diane Freeling


What an interesting counterpoint draw to yesterday! Add another mother to the mix with Diane Freeling, JoBeth Williams’s matriarch in Tobe Hooper’s paranormal classic Poltergeist. This time, however, rather than unleashing a franchise of mayhem, our Lady stands against the onslaught of mayhem, unflinching in her resolve (for the most part…but she definitely deserved some of those flinches).

Strangely enough, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Diane Freeling on any list of greatest women in horror. I’m honestly stunned by this oversight. Never mind the fact that Poltergeist holds a special place in my heart as being the first modern horror movie I ever saw all the way through, Diane deserves recognition for being the ultimate defender and protector of her family.

After all, she is the one who bears witness to most of the increasing inexplicable activity and the first adult ultimately to believe that there is something happening that needs to be addressed. Even more importantly, she is the one who enters the other dimension to save her youngest child, Carol Anne, from horrors so fierce that she exits covered in unspeakably disgusting goo and marked with Bride of Frankenstein streaks of gray through her hair. Even with the fraction of horror we and the others in the movie witness coming through that portal, we can never truly fathom what she must have witnessed, all to save her child.

And, of course, it didn’t end there. Diane must fight to save her children once more, this time by herself. Surviving near violation and physical abuse, rescuing her children from a second abduction attempt by the spirit world, and ultimately coming face to face with the rotting corpses of bodies left behind by entrepreneurial assholes, Diane stands tall throughout it all, keeping her wits through the most atrocious encounters and altercations, and keeping her family together and alive through it all.